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3. Sponge Culture

Sponges are well suited to cultivation since small cut pieces will regenerate. The first attempt was made in Florida in 1879. In the early 1960's, experiments in Greece showed that Spongia officinalis regenerated well if cut pieces were attached to an artificial substrate. Cultured sponges will grow to commercial size in 5–7 years. The advantages of sponge cultivation are those of most cultured aquatic species: harvesting need only be carried out when the market is good, and to a certain extent size, quality and colour of the sponges can be controlled in line with market requirements. However, the high concentration of sponges in a relatively narrow area creates the problem of diseases. There are no figures available on the present cultured sponge production worldwide, but projects are well on the way both in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

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